Hot off the press from the Associated Press is a story stating that Congress is about to pass legislation which avoids the proposed 10% cut in Medicare payment scheduled to take place 14 days from now.
The legislation crafted by Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Finance Committee would give doctors a 0.5 percent raise when they treat the elderly and disabled. The Senate was expected to approve the bill Tuesday or Wednesday. The legislation would then move to the House, which hopes to wrap up work this week.Like practically everything else in government, there's a catch. What's the catch? Well, this HUGE zero-point-five percent raise in Medicare payment will expire on June 30, 2008. Which means, that docs will have to go through this stress and anguish and Congressional advocacy efforts all over again in six months.
I know what you're saying, what's the big deal? Docs have all kinds of money anyway. They don't need a pay raise like everyone else does. I don't want to get started on a rant. But, I will say that patients are feeling the effects of status quo or less payment by the federal government and private insurance companies for physician services. Here is how one patient sees it:
Docs, especially GP's (or PA's, my GP was on vacation and also works with a PA who handles some things, you can make an appointment with either but the PA is available much sooner usually) are so pressed-for time, something needs to CHANGE to make it so they can spend a little more time with each patient, geez! Yet not lose money because they might be seeing fewer by a couple, each day . . . . . and then there's all the paperwork, etc. I'm sure Doctor Anonymous, aka Dr. A, can chime in with some comments to this post, from his point of view (he's a GP).Presuming this legislation passes, I would like to thank Congress for the HUGE raise for taking care of Medicare patients. Of course, the private insurance companies will follow suit, or even continue their tradition of sometimes paying 80-90% of what Medicare pays. For all the Senators and Congress representatives out there reading this - Merry Christmas (er, for the politically correct, Happy Winter Solstice) and we'll see you in June when we have to do this dance all over again.